The Redlands Palomino Company – a somewhat cumbersome name, but one you’d do well to commit to memory, because once you’ve heard the honeyed, dual-vocaled Americana of tonight’s main support, you’ll be wanting to get rather evangelical about them.
Richmond Fontaine‘s brand of alt-country is a little rougher around the edges, courtesy of frontman Willy Vlautin‘s gravel-toned voice, but it’s undeniably warm at heart; forever scanning the horizon for a place to call home.
A much noisier proposition live than on record, the band switch fluidly between songs, spoken word tracks and extended instrumentals, bolstered by Dan Eccles’ nimble electric guitar lines and Paul Brainard’s wonderfully melancholic trumpet.
Drawing from across their back catalogue, from the melodic lament of ‘Lonnie’ from 2009’s We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River and ‘Two Broken Hearts’ through to rawer material from early albums, they play an extensive and expansive set. These are not simply songs, though; these are self-contained stories. The characters which inhabit these worlds are damaged, lost; some might call them deadbeats, but the lyrics are empathetic and nuanced, always rooting for the underdog.
Musically, it’s a tight and engaging performance; evocative of the open road yet simultaneously apt for the intimate setting of Clwb. And, when an increasingly-intoxicated Vlautin recounts tales of crazy past encounters on the road, you’d have to be extremely hard of heart to head off afterwards into the Cardiff night without feeling charmed.